Can you be friends with a member of the opposite sex?

Note: I am talking about heterosexual males and heterosexual females (“cisgender” heterosexual males and females). This is not to say that the friendship dynamics between, say, a gay male and a straight male wouldn’t be interesting. I think that they would be. I just know nothing about it; those who have something to say are welcome to do so.

I’ll be writing from the point of view of a married, straight male.

By “friends”, I mean: “someone that you do something with”, and not merely someone that you say “hi” to at work or in the gym, or work with on a professional level. I am not talking about things like internet discussion or interaction, though I realize that can be an interesting issue too.

Yes, I have female friends. Where this stems from: many years ago, “before kids”, I did have male friends that I did things with, such as go to games, go out to eat with, etc. But as kids came and I became a non-custodial parent “at a distance”, most of my “non-spousal” “doing stuff with” partners were single women, most who had either never had kids or whose kids were long gone. Simply put, that is who was available and interested.

The types of things I’ve done with female friends: spectator sporting events (football, baseball, basketball), yoga workshops, political campaigns/events, running races, runs, hikes, plays (one time to watch my wife perform!) and meals. The meals mostly came after events, meetings, or were workday lunches.

Yes, my wife has done things with male friends as well.

So, of course my answer to my question would be “yes”, but I will have to say that the dynamic is a bit different for me when the friend is a straight female as opposed to being a male. Here is why:

1. Of course, you are more limited in what you can do. Example: I did a half marathon with a male friend. We got a hotel room the night before. I probably couldn’t do that with a female friend, at least so long as I am married. Some time ago, I did spend the night in the guest bedroom of a single female friend and while the friend was fine, it did created a bit of unneeded tension at home. There was no such tension when I spent the night at a male friend’s house.

Another example: my yoga teacher (when I did that regularly) suggested that we practice “partner yoga” together so we could present it at a workshop. So we did. Some of the partner poses..might be described as being somewhat intimate. Yes, we did this one, both this version and the wide leg version.


The stretch WAS deeper than I could have done on my own, which was part of the point. But there was the “trust” thing too. When it is two males, the trust would come in expecting the other partner to not let you fall. But with a female..and a fit, firm one..they are going to feel good to me and so I had to put my mind in a correct state.

And one time, my teacher was a bit tipsy (wine) when I showed up; so she was a bit bolder, laughed more and, well, things were fine. But other yogis told me that I had taken a risk, though one said he “envied my situation”.

2. There are the old memories from my early adult/teenage days too. What I’ve found is that “the first time” with a female…well…*feels* but a bit “date-ish” to me. New friendships (male or female) always has a “sorting out” phase, but for me there is an extra bit of nervousness when it is a female, AT FIRST. I suppose that, even on a “just friends” outing, rejection is a bit more painful if it comes from a female, even if it is a “well, we didn’t hit it off” rejection that sometimes happens with male friends. And there is this: even if it is subtle: if she finds you attractive: warning! If she doesn’t, there is the “what is wrong with me?” hurt feelings reaction.

I still remember going to a basketball game with a female friend who invited herself (“hey, if your wife doesn’t want to go, take me!”). She was openly nervous at first; almost stammering when we first met. It went fine.

3. If the friendship lasts long enough for things to get comfortable (no nervousness): I’ve noticed that almost all of my female friends (with perhaps one exception) usually make a remark or gesture to remind me that, while they are friends and are NOT hitting on me, they are still a female with the power to attract. They might tell a story, or say something like “I’ll be you are glad that I am wearing yoga pants” or even give a playful wiggle. I think that most people (at least ones that I am friends with) don’t want to be viewed asexually during their “off work” hours. Sexual attractiveness is part of the ego (and “power struggle”), even between friends.

4. Then, there is “the look”. Yes, straight guys sometimes give each other: “you are one cool guy to hang out with..I like you” look to each other. There is no danger that the look will be taken any other way. But when the friend is a straight female, there is the added “OMG, a straight female finds me to be desirable” reaction and that pumps the ego up just a tiny bit more.

5. Now this is the part that I am the most ashamed of: when it comes to male friends, my ONLY criteria is “do I find them to be good company”. I have friends of many different types, although given the things that I like to do, my male friends tend to be either smart (regardless of educational credentials) or athletic; most are both. I can think of some who aren’t athletic but all are smart to one degree or another.

But with women, there is another factor. I’ll explain: when you are out with a female friend, others in the public often make the assumption that you are “together”. That can lead to a bit of awkwardness: some have thought that I was married to my running buddy. Once we went to a game and she wore the opposing team’s sweatshirt. Someone joked that if my team won, I wouldn’t “get any”. Another time, we were featured in the “Kiss Cam”. (peck on the cheek is what I gave).

But, more often, the “public assumption that you are together”…well, I’ll say it this way: every female friend I’ve done something with is someone that I would have been proud to be seen on a date with, were both of us single. I suppose that it feels to me that a female companion reflects on me more than a male one does. It shouldn’t be that way, but to me, it is.


December 29, 2015 - Posted by | Friends, human sexuality, social/political | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] enough, I do more things with other females than I ever did when I was single. I’ve spoken in more detail about the upside and downside to female friendship in another post. But this is what I think is going on: when I am single, most outings with a female […]

    Pingback by Why marriage agrees with me (sans kids) « blueollie | January 4, 2016 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: